Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Place of Enchantment

From time to time a dream gives a glimpse of a unified and happy psyche.

The Dream: I am in a city apartment building with a friend or colleague and knock on a door. When a young woman answers I describe myself as a home health worker, although even as I say it I'm not sure that's quite accurate. It's my job to check on the welfare of children and families.

The woman is young and lives in an apartment with one large, high ceilinged room; there is a separate kitchen with an eat-in area off to the left. She lives with a man and their two daughters. What has me impressed, and even excited, is the way so many aspects of life have been integrated into this one space. The place is beautifully furnished,with a dark wood hutch to the left. There's a large bed in the middle of the room, and the clutter of children's toys and activities all around. The woman is bathing one of her daughters in a portable tub on top of the bed. The combination of the elegant furnishings and the joyous activity strikes me as wonderful. No conflict here between tidiness and the necessary business of life. The mother is completely comfortable with the low level of chaos, and it doesn't feel chaotic here,but rather serene and lovely.

Later I am invited to the wedding of the woman and the man. I go into the kitchen / eating nook. There is a window over the table and the spot looks bright and airy. “Look,” I say to my companion, “there's only one window, yet the entire place seems so bright and cheerful.”

Interpretation: The home health worker represents the part of me tasked with assessing inner harmony. She checks on the welfare of the various components of my psyche, symbolized by the children and families. In this unusual dream, it seems I've taken a step toward a synthesis of the sometimes discordant players in my inner world. The elegant and refined environment of the home, a symbol of this inner world, feels spacious and is full of beautiful and chaotic life. All are respected and cared for in a loving manner. Some sort of inner integration has taken place, and this is emphasized by the marriage of the man and the woman. Opposite tendencies have been resolved; the lion can lie down with the lamb. Serenity reigns, and illumination prevails. A mysterious light comes from within. Nice. Of course, it won't last . . . .

Sunday, August 26, 2012

By the Book

The Dream: Clark and I are in New York City. I have a special booklet, sparkling and glowing, that I want to give to a young person who I feel needs the information. We look for her house on 3 different streets but can't find it. I know the general location, but none of the houses look exactly right. Finally I suggest that we wait for her to come outside. The townhouses are like those on the upper West Side with steps going up to their entryways, very well maintained and updated.

Interpretation: The special booklet contains some sort of enlightenment (it sparkles and glows). It isn't very thick, so it is probably recently acquired psychic knowledge, as opposed to revelations that have accumulated over a long period of time. The young person I want to give this to is the newly emerging self that appeared in the previous dream. I am having trouble locating her, and none of the houses (the integrated selves; in other words, this new self plus my gnarly old self) seem right. The dream is telling me that I'm not quite ready for the psychic change taking place. I come up with a reasonable solution: let's wait for her to come to us. The townhouses, being well maintained and updated, symbolize my new (spiritual) home (self).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Old Vine

The Dream: I am selling my house and property. On the property is a vineyard with old growth vines, thick and gnarly, branches intricately interwoven. I tell potential buyers the vines need maintenance.

Interpretation: I am ready for a big change. I leave behind my house (my old self) and my property (the patterns of thinking and being that I've accumulated). Recognizing the complexity and interdependence of a lifetime of growth, even if some of it is convoluted (thick and gnarly), I explain to the emerging part of myself coming to the fore that some of the earlier psychic systems will need to be maintained.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Do You Have a Dream?

Have you dreamed of a departed loved one? Dream worker Susanne van Doorn is studying these sorts of dreams, and you can help by contributing yours. She says:
Please help us to investigate the dreams about lost loved ones, either people or pets. We are undertaking a survey where we look for connections between dreams of relatives and precognitive dreams, as well as search for common themes in these sorts of dreams. It is an easy survey, it will only take about 5 minutes of your time.
Click on the link to contribute your dream to her study. https://secure.jotform.us/dreamers/dreamsurvey

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Be Who You Are

The Dream: A group of people decide to follow their own agendas and go after what they want. One woman disappears and reappears in full bridal regalia, ready to be married to another woman, although it seems to be an inconvenient moment for this event. A man opens his trousers, revealing women's underwear. I'm embarrassed, but the rest of the group is very accepting, not shocked or even particularly interested. Their reaction: “That's cool, man!” I chat with Tolstoy, not sure whether to call him Mr. Tolstoy or Peter. (The name Leo did not come up.)

Interpretation: Using sexual metaphors (lesbianism, transvestism) the dream shows people feeling free to be whoever they are. Since these dream characters are aspects of me, this implies that despite the inconvenience or embarrassment it may cause, I feel free to be me. I'm ready to marry an important part of myself, and it's cool.

At the same time, I'm not sure who the writer (artist) is. I stumble over his name and don't know what to call him. As a dream character Tolstoy is a wise old man. He watches. He understands; nothing fazes him. Being someone from the past, he might represent a wise, accepting parent, but not one that I can recognize.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fill in the Blanks

This short dream presents a little puzzle.

The Dream: I try to fill in the blanks.

Interpretation: What's not there that should be? What's missing: a forgotten experience; something from the past; something I should have done but didn't? The dream has no answers, only questions.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


This dream is about transformation. Since we're all in the process of psychic transformation all the time, it's not surprising that it shows up regularly in our dreams.

The Dream:
I am taking cooking oil to a recycle center that utilizes only food waste. To get to the center I have to walk down into a gulley, its slope covered with the kind of loose rocks used to control weeds and erosion. Once I get down, a helpful and friendly—in a professional way--man directs us to the proper drop off site. I take the oil to an underpass and see that it is recycled into beautiful carved kitchen cabinet doors. I am very impressed with this operation and plan to come again.

In another area waste is recycled into jewels. This work is so interesting to me that I would like to be a part of it. I hope to be hired. The man in charge of the jewels is leaving; as they look for a replacement for him I hope I will be considered for the post, but I think that is unlikely since I have no experience. However, his assistant is promoted and I am taken on to learn the craft.

In mythology oil is a gift fit for the gods. The used, depleted oils in this dream (my feelings about my own potential) are transformed into ornamental cabinet doors. These in turn protect the treasures of the kitchen (an area where ingredients are transformed into something that sustains us). There's something circular here: the oil goes from kitchen waste to a beautiful and useful part of the kitchen. But to turn this particular dross into gold I must first climb down the sides of the gulley covered with loose rocks. The dream tells me that I am feeling used up, wasted—but that if I can negotiate the slippery slope, where I might literally lose my footing, I will get to a place (my center) where I might become energized for the better.

The second paragraph of the dream reiterates the same theme, this time upping the ante by changing waste into jewels.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Guest Dream: Knitting Myself Together

Today' guest dreamer is Robin Whitmore, who also records and illustrates his dreams at Robin's Dream Diary. I'll respond to his dream as if it were my own. The dreamer always gets the last word, so please look at the comments following the dream for Robin's take.

Robin's Dream: I am in a huge builders merchants' yard. Workmen are milling around, busy on an important task - something has to be found out, uncovered. I pick up a plastic bag with plumbing connections in it."Leave them alone," I am told, "don't want you meddling with that." I just seem to be in the way.

Then I find a stack of old papers, all in handwriting that is not easy to decipher. It goes back years. I am convinced this has the answer to everything the men are searching for and I say to one of them,"Let me look through these, I am sure I will find the truth here." The men are a bit dismissive, they don't share my conviction but they are happy for me to take this dusty heap away. As I start to look through it my heart sinks, there is so much there and it's really hard to read, I'll never get anywhere.

Slowly I begin to sift through the paperwork, writing down each tiny detail. A woman (about 30-35 with long straight hair) sits with me. "Let's work out what this is all about. Someone's life is at stake- its about someone's life, a record." (I see an image of Beachy Head cliffs.) The documents seem to be about this woman.

Now I find pictures and objects within this pile of papers- there are three knitting needles, maybe 2'6"long, and they are covered in knitted wool in soft,"feminine" pastel shades of flame. The needles remind me of bullfighting spikes or spears or something to do with electricity like lightning rods.

"This was the beginning - one of many projects that never led anywhere." The woman laughs and admits it was another fruitless project. (Am I slightly contemptuous of her? Do I think she doesn't have it in her to create anything deep, anything meaningful?)

There are receipts in this collection. She must have been working, she must have earnt this - sums like £320 and another for a bit less. Modest sums. "Is there a date?" I ask the woman. We look and I arrange them in order.

The pictures I find are black and white newspaper cuttings collaged together and now a heap of old sepia family photos that I drop on the stone floor. I try to pick them up in order but muddle them a bit - never mind, I should be able to sort them out.

I am annoyed that I wake up before the puzzle is solved. There are pages of this novel, for that is what it is, that are maybe in german or russian. (So many times I start a book only to give up because the language is too hard.) This will be difficult language to decode but I know I can and must do it.

Carla's thoughts: This is a very complex dream, and I'm not going to pretend that I can unravel it without help from the dreamer. I have no way of knowing the allusions to Robin's waking life that play out  in this dream, so I will leave it to him to decipher those. Nevertheless, I hope my reactions will help Robin look at his dream with fresh eyes. For me (taking on the dreamer's masculine sex as I look at his dream), the dream is about coming to terms with my anima, a Jungian term for the woman who lives in every man.

The first paragraph of the dream sets the stage: I am working on uncovering a long forgotten aspect of myself. What is to emerge is connected to an unconscious process (the plumbing connections) that I have not recognized as authentic; these deep (we plumb the depths, after all) connections are covered in plastic, a material almost synonymous with phoney. The workmen have an ambivalent role. On the one hand, these manly men (and what's more masculine than a workman in a builder's yard?) are the masculine force in search of its feminine counterpart, and they don't want me to stand in their way. On the other hand, by not allowing me to help, they are obstructing the process. It's not unusual for dreams to have things two different ways simultaneously; after all, if there were no inner conflict we probably wouldn't be having the dream.

The second paragraph introduces a mini resolution, a first step on my way to a kind of internal integration: the men who didn't want me looking into things a moment ago are now ready to accept my help, and I know that I've been given access to the materials that will allow me to uncover the truth. I find out that something buried in the past is responsible for repressing what the the dream is trying to free. Did I keep a handwritten (or drawn) journal at some point in my youth? If so, the dream might be trying to get me to take a look at this time, a period when psychic events occurred that I am still having trouble understanding (the old papers that are hard to read, hard to decipher).

I need to think about the woman who is 30 to 35 years old. Who or what does she represent? Does the woman's long straight hair belong to an actual person or does it stand in for abstract qualities? For example, hair, coming out of the head as it does, can symbolize thoughts. Does this character's straight hair represent straight (and narrow) thoughts? In that case, since every part of my dream reflects some part of me, I am looking at my own straight and narrow thoughts. The woman symbolizes my own inner woman, and the dream is about my attempt to integrate her into my psyche. (Is the dreamer 30 to 35 at the time of this dream?) The men who are dismissive reflect a typical masculine reaction to women, and the dream makes it clear that I share these feelings. Did I let this cultural bias divorce me from my anima who is, in Jungian terms, the source of my spiritual self? In the past Beachy Head cliffs was known for its high number of suicides. By introducing this image my dream is pointing out—rather melodramatically in the way of dreams--how my anima feels about the issue: ("Let's work out what this is all about. Someone's life is at stake- its about someone's life, a record.") The life that is at stake is the inner life of an important part of me.

The knitting needles present a conjunctio, a marriage of opposites: a positive development in this conjoining of the masculine and feminine within my pysche. Knitting needles are associated with a feminine activity, and their function as a feminine symbol is reinforced by their feminine colored covering in the dream. At the same time, the dreamer tells us that “the needles remind me of bullfighting spikes or spears or something to do with electricity like lightning rods,” all very masculine symbols. Put together, these divergent symbols and the flame (enlightenment) that covers them represent the spiritual truth I've been searching for. The project that never led anywhere was my attempt to integrate these two seemingly irreconcilable aspects of myself.

The contempt that I express toward this anima figure encapsulates my dilemma: As an artist, I need to be on excellent terms with my anima! If Jung is right, then she represents the wellspring (there are those plumbing connections again) of my creativity. And yet—that is what I don't trust her to do. I question whether she can “create anything deep, anything meaningful?

That she has earned some money signifies that I have begun to give her some of the credit that is her due. Not too much; the sums are modest. But at least I've been able to move from seeing everything in black and white to a more nuanced sepia. I'm still confused (I've muddled the picture) and frustrated by the novel (new) and incomprehensible (in a foreign language) puzzle, but I think I'll be able to sort it out. I've made an important beginning with this dream.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Nowhere to Hide

The Dream: I'm on an iceberg in a frozen world. I am taking part in a documentary meant to demonstrate how a person can create an ice fortress for protection from roaming beasts.

I have my own patch of territory, a rectangle marked with an edge of shoveled snow. The beasts begin to appear. I demonstrate how to make a small mound to hide behind. After I make the mound I'm told to crouch behind it, cradling my head in my arms. Even as I do this I have doubts that it will work. In the first place, the mound is a pile of dark earth. It seems to me that against the white snow this will only call attention to my hiding place. Next, as I try to hide behind it and tuck my head down I realize I can't see what's going on, and I don't see how that's going to help me avoid a predator.

This dream shows me that my defenses are useless. I've tried to make myself safe by isolating myself on a frozen patch (a place free of emotion). Yet the only way the rectangular territory is cut off from its greater environment is visually; it's ridiculously simple for any threat to breach the boundary. And the threats do come, in the form of wild animals (my unacknowledged strong feelings). My attempts to hide from these are ludicrous and only make me more vulnerable.

It's interesting that I'm making a documentary, perhaps a symbol for my dream journal. I'm following the dictates of the “director” as I build my idiotic “fortress.” The message here is that I will not find my safe place—the place where I can live—by following the path laid out for me by others. In the final dream sequence the fact that I'm questioning what I've been told will keep me “safe” is a kind of progress.